Note from the author: There are 1,368 varieties covered in Wine Grapes by MW Jancis Robinson, MW Julia Harding, and Dr. Jose Vouillamoz. Bet you can't try them all.
Where I live, the asparagus has arrived. It is the best time of year.
The hills sprung to life overnight, transformed from dull gold to radiant green. The air is clean and pure, and everything feels bursting with possibility, lightness, energy and hope.
And the season's first rosé beckons from the shelf. I must have it. I love all shades of rosé, but especially the ones that seem to glow a racy watermelon pink. In fact, truth be told, I bought the 2012 San Giovanni Il Chiaretto Rosé entirely because it was this color, and a perfect match for the fuchsia-striped insides of the watermelon radishes I'd just picked out.
No grape name was listed on the bottle, but Google pointed me to the silly-stunning wine region around Lake Garda in Lombardy, Italy, and their local Gropello grape—though I'm not entirely sure which version. My Wine Grapes book isn't decisive either: "The name Gropello has been given to several distinct varieties in northern Italy," it says.
Two of these, Gropello di Mocasina and Gropello Gentile, are commonly blended together, along with my rosé's other teammates, Sangiovese, Marzemino, and Barbera. Authors Jancis, Julia and José don't offer tips on what to look for in Gropello, but I can tell you the Il Chiaretto Rosé was fired up with juicy strawberry and watermelon flavors. At the core it was almost salty, stony and solid, with a smack of acidity on the backside—perfectly thirst-quenching after a sweaty yoga session (Water? What's that?) and the perfect, delightful squeal of spring alongside a plate of sweet asparagus.
2012 San Giovanni Il Chiaretto Rosé
The Grape(s): Gropello, Sangiovese, Marzemino, Barbera
The Region: Lombardy, Italy
Retail Price: $16
The Importer: Acid Inc. Selections
About the Author: Stevie Stacionis is a wine writer and Certified Sommelier based in San Francisco. She's currently drinking her way through the 1,368 varieties included in the new Wine Grapes tome. Follow her on Twitter @StevieStacionis and check out her snobbery-free wine videos at A Drinks With Friends TV.